Article Written by Ian Kilbride
I was born in Warrington in 1962 and moved to South Africa in 1990. I arrived here having driven for seven months from London but fell in love with the country and the people and decided to stay.
In 1994, I decided I wanted to do something as a memory to my sister Louise, who passed away at only 19 years old. I also wanted to give something back to South Africa, which I felt had been very kind to me. I therefore approached Tessa Smit who I knew was retiring as a school principal and asked her to help me form what is now the Spirit Foundation. When we started we even assisted pre-schoolers and over the years have slowly evolved to the point where we decided to focus entirely on high school scholars.
Over the past 22 years there have been too many overall highlights to mention but I think the fact that we are now well established, well-staffed and operate a simple modus operandi, it gives me great comfort. I think that every year brings its own highlights when you see the successful matriculation of scholars via the foundation.
Our track record
The Spirit Foundation has one clear goal – to offer quality education to people from a less advantaged background. It does not seek out excellence but it has been a stimulus and guide that has at times produced excellence. The foundation is exceptionally well run by highly professional staff and a dedicated set of trustees. It is independent and clear in its straight forward objectives. This allows one message and a greater degree of certainty.
I personally believe that with a 22 year track record, stability of leadership, stability of purpose and total transparency of all its financial affairs the Spirit Foundation is by far the country’s leading privately funded educational foundation.
Vision for the future
I look forward to the foundation continuing to exist long after I have gone and I hope that my own family and children will remain involved over the coming decades. On a more specific point, I look forward to 2019 and our 25th anniversary, which I think in wedding terms is known as your silver anniversary. This will be an amazing milestone in the foundation’s ongoing history.
I also feel that the Alumni have an ever increasing responsibility to take the foundation forward and be actively involved in its evolution over the coming years. Rather like the Alumni of school, college or university, they can have a major impact on how the foundation is also funded.
I would like to thank all those Alumni who have become more actively involved and I would like to ask all other Alumni who are not involved to ask themselves one simple question: ‘The Spirit Foundation has fundamentally been a material player in my life and enabled me to be where I am today and where I am going, therefore what can I do for the foundation that ensures that I ‘give back’ and help the existing and future Spirit Foundation scholars?’
A message to our scholars
I know that if I had been given the opportunity, that all foundation scholars have been offered, then I would have grasped it with both hands, got involved as much as I possibly could and ensured that I worked the opportunity to the absolute maximum.
I would also like to say that the foundation can only give you the opportunity – it is down to you to then use that to assist you in getting the education that will set you up for life.
A message to our donors
Over the years we have never ceased to be surprised by the generosity of people and also companies. As time has progressed, our donors have seen the simplicity and transparency of our objectives and operations. I would like to thank everybody that has donated anything at all to the Spirit Foundation over its last 22 years, as well as to those who will be assisting us in the years to come. You can rely on us to give you exactly what we promised and we will give you that via a highly professional staff and a commitment that 100% of what you donate will be utilised in the direct educational needs of our scholars. We are able to do this as one of our donors, since the foundations inception, has covered all other costs within the foundation.
Finally, just a big thank you!
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